It’s 9:53pm, I just got home from a sneak preview of the upcoming hit, Creed, the latest movie in the decades long running Rocky series. Yes, I said the upcoming hit, because this movie truly delivers.
Late as it, and as tired as I am, I’m not going to bed tonight until I get this review wrapped up. Most of the time when I go to the movies, I sit down, kick back, sneak in a beer to relax a little, then ride home and don’t think a whole lot about the last two hours.
Not this movie.
This time I sat down, kicked back, snuck in a beer, and never got around to drinking it. I didn’t want to relax. I didn’t want to lose my edge. Creed was so damn enjoyable the only way I wanted to watch it was stone cold sober. You know how EDM sucks so bad you need to be drugged out of your mind to tolerate your own existence while listening to it? This movie was the exact opposite.
The story centers around Adonis Creed, son of famed belated champion boxer Apollo Creed. Yes, the same Apollo Creed that squared off against Rocky Balboa. Given that Rocky IV is now 30 years old it should come as no spoiler to anyone that he died in the ring during an exhibition match against Drago, a Russian cyborg.
Young Adonis grows up knowing who his father is, but never tells anyone and prefers to go by his mother’s maiden name to prevent unwanted attention, and fades away into the noise of life. With his mother and father both deceased, he is raised by the state and develops some aggression. Some years later an older Adonis works a desk job in Los Angeles, moonlighting as a backdoor boxer. Adonis doesn’t wait for fate, he pursues it, and moves to Philadelphia with the sole purpose of befriending an exhausted Rocky Balboa. Through a series of (very well written) events, one thing leads to another and Adonis ends up biting off more than he can chew, coming face to face with the legacy of his family name.
If that seems cliché, it’s only because I can only give away so much information without spoiling the movie. Adonis did not want to piggy back off of the fame of his father’s name. Similarly, the movie could have easily polished up a recycled B-list script, piggy backed off the success of the Rocky franchise and titled this movie Rocky 6, or Rocky: New Beginning, made a couple million and called it a day. Again, not this movie. I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of detail that went into this movie, from the story, to the script, the acting, the casting, the setting, and most importantly how this new story artfully wove itself into the existing canon. Creed very easily fits into the legacy, but would also be entirely enjoyable having never seen a Rocky film in your life.
Something I have been waiting to blurt out is that Michael B. Jordan knocked this role out of the park, or I should say the ring. Apparently his comic book action adventure Fantastic Four totally flopped in theaters both critically and commercially this year. After having watched Creed, I in no way attribute whatever failure Fantastic Four was to Jordan’s performance.
Something about Jordan’s portrayal of Adonis just feels right. From the moment the audience is introduced to the character, he latches on to and grows on you. I’ve seen a bunch of the recent fighting movies like Warrior, The Fighter, Southpaw, and although those are good movies, the characters are all kinda meh. You root for the guy, but only because you sort have to root for the main character, right? In Creed you genuinely want to root for the guy. Michael B. Jordan plays the role so well you forget you’re watching a fictional movie and start to feel like you’re a fly on the wall of a real person’s life, and his character is so damn likable you just want to reach into the screen and give the guy a hug. He was orphaned, is prone to fighting, and portrays that well without the stick-up-his-ass stench that makes it hard to warm up to characters like Tom Hardy’s in Warrior. I appreciated that Adonis wasn’t a walking stereotype. He wasn’t the brooding, he wasn’t angry, he wasn’t depressed, he wasn’t down on his luck, he wasn’t a rebel. He was a true to life character with a real, believable balance of emotions and personality traits that is damn hard to find in a modern cinematic character. I hope to see more of Jordan in future films.
Sylvester Stallone featured more heavily than I thought he would. From the advertising it seemed as though Stallone would cameo in the movie for a few minutes, have a second or two in trailer to create some buzz, put his name on the billboards to draw crowds, and then be all but absent in the film. Instead he had a very fair amount of screen time, and performed a very important supporting role to our central protagonist. Stallone is also more known for his iconic roles than for his acting prowess, but this may have very well been his best performance ever. The famed actor brought real heart and passion into his 6th and possibly last portrayal of the Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa.
Rounding out the cast was Tessa Thompson as the beautiful Bianca, who despite playing the again “cliché” love interest to Adonis Creed, is a very strong, modern, female role. The movie would have suffered a huge void without her, and she made a great addition to our family of characters. I loved that she wasn’t the typical nagging female character I’ve grown to loath. Lori Grimes from Walking Dead, Madeleine Swann from Spectre, Margaret Schroeder from Boardwalk Empire. Haven’t we had enough of these nagging anchors that call themselves women? Thompson as Bianca was a breath of fresh air, and reaffirmed that you can be a strong woman, and still be beautiful, kind, and loving, without being annoying, or a lesbian.
As do most of the movies that I love, Creed has real heart. I almost cried. I laughed more than I expected to. I commiserated with all the characters. The fight and training sequences were so intense and heart pounding my hands were sweating, my heart was pounding, my legs were shaking, and my hairs literally stood on end. Never since the original Rocky has a fight movie pumped you up so much. The movie was fresh, but it had plenty of nostalgia. True to form, what Rocky movie would be complete without a montage? And this movie managed to pull it off without the cheesy 80’s garb.
Now, shall I be so bold… It is my opinion that this was the best movie of 2015. This was the best movie since Winter Soldier. And get this… Creed was the best movie in the Rocky franchise. I will probably see this movie once more in theaters, I will buy this on DVD, and I will anxiously await a sequel.
I give this movie a 10/10. Go see Creed in theaters, you will not be disappointed.